Remembering Former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres

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The President of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland remembers former Israeli President Shimon Peres as a man who never gave up.  

Stephen Hoffman met with Peres on several occasions in the early 2000’s when he was CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America and Peres was looking for support for several projects.  

“There was no small talk, no chit chat.  He always had an agenda.”  

As a young man, Peres worked to build up the Israel military, even to include nuclear weapons.   But Hoffman says he continued to work toward peace agreements.

“He didn’t flinch from tough military decisions. There was a spine of steel but that also didn’t stop him from holding out a dream to the Arab neighbors and to the Palestinians.  He saw ways that peace could come.” 

As Foreign Minister Peres helped develop the Oslo Accords that would create Palestinian-run territories. That fell apart after Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin was assassinated by a conservative Israeli and the accords were never completed.      

Today the idea of a two-state solution is largely off the table. But Hoffman said even in old-age, Peres did not give up.

“[He] did everything he could to heal rifts within Israeli society but to also keep in front of people the hoe that there could be peace and that people had to act in a way that recognized there were human beings on the other side of the conflict.”

He said the former prime minister and president helped build up Israel’s military and its economy but never gave up his dream of a peaceful Middle East.   

Peres was a minister in Israel government for 47 years in a country that is only 68 years old.

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